“I want to get the message out to as many people as possible…I want to sell as much organic cotton as possible because this helps the farmers. If they can sell organic cotton rather than conventional, it improves their lives immeasurably as they don’t have to spend all their money on chemical pesticides and fertilizers and can finally afford to feed, clothe, house their families, educate their children and afford healthcare, which is not the case if they farm conventionally.” British designer-activist Katharine Hamnett
Organic Cotton: Future of Clothing- Knitting and Weaving its Way Into Our Closets
There is no doubt that cotton clothing feels best on our skin. It’s soft, safe, breathes on our skin and lets our skin breathe. But industrialization has done a huge harm to farming community, earth and environment by adding toxic pesticides to cotton crops. “Nature’s Miracle”- naturally grown cotton, is contaminated.
Until the 1920’s, all agriculture was generally organic. Farmers used natural means to feed the soil and to control pests. It was not until the Second World War that farming methods changed dramatically. It was when research on chemicals designed as nerve gas showed they were also capable of killing insects.
Consumers beware; pick your cotton carefully. Grown with pesticides, colored with synthetic dyes and chemicals, topped with toxic finishes and lack of transparency on labels has made cotton clothing not so natural any more.
While still cotton might be a better choice as compared to synthetic wear, it’s high time now to educate ourselves on not only what we eat but on what we wear too. It’s time to “Care What You Wear”.
We know very well how industry has contaminated our food. There is high awareness and rise in demand for organic food. You can find organic food in Wal-Mart and Aldi’s now. Organic Cotton clothing is next.
Industrial cotton takes a heavy toll on the environment:
- Cotton is responsible for 25% of global insecticide use yet accounts for 3% of the world’s crops.
- The average conventional cotton t-shirt uses almost half a pound of toxic chemicals in its production.
- It takes 500 gallons of water to produce just one t-shirt made of conventional cotton. In some areas, conventional cotton is contributing heavily to water scarcity.
This is significant because cotton makes up 50 percent of the world’s fiber needs. With 29 million tons produced annually around the world, cotton is among the most powerful cash crops in the world. A widespread shift from traditional to organic cotton would have major impacts due to the sheer size of the cotton industry. As it currently stands, traditional cotton consumes more chemical pesticides than any other crop.
Organic cotton is catching up fast. People are slowly but surely getting aware about the use of pesticides in conventional cotton and toxic chemicals while dyeing and finishing cotton textiles.
Based in Washington D.C., Organic Trade Association highlights; organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.
Organic fashion and textiles are getting popular day by day. It makes lot of sense to wear organic cotton made clothes as they are safer on skin and kinder to the planet.
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), is a powerful organization in Europe. GOTS was developed through collaboration by leading standard setters with the aim of defining requirements that are recognized world-wide and that ensure the organic status of textiles from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labeling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.
Soil Association, UK’s leading food and farming charity and organic certification body, is a founding member of GOTS, highlights several reasons why organic textiles are kinder, cleaner and better:
- Organic fibers are grown without using harmful pesticides or genetically modified organisms so promote a healthier farm and environment.
- Soil Association and GOTS do not allow harmful manufacturing chemicals in organic textile production, so it’s better for wildlife and workers.
- Social conditions are high in organic textile factories, and organic cotton production can help farmers find a way out of poverty.
- Animal welfare is at the heart of organic systems, so is better for animals growing our fibers.
- Organic textiles manufactured under Soil Association and GOTS approved factories does not contain allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemicals.
The apparel industry is currently walking an ethical tightrope, with the media circus master cracking the whip at the chemical-laced fashion beast. But as the environmental and human toll mounts, we are on the verge of a cotton revolution
Cheap clothing made of conventional cotton externalizes many costs, including environmental degradation and worker abuse. The benefits of organic cotton clothing include clean production, fair treatment of workers, and no toxic chemicals in your clothes.
In 2011 organic fiber sales in the United States grew by 17.1 percent over the previous year, to reach $708 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey. The future looks promising, with organic fiber products appearing in more mainstream outlets, led by large and small U.S. textile retailers alike.
Organic cotton has not reached everywhere yet. Apparel industry is responsible for approximately 10 percent of the global carbon footprint, serious efforts has to be made to reduce the environmental impact of our clothing.
Read further on Organic Trade Association website on what are organic fiber products and how can you identify genuine organic clothing in the United States.
Main image courtesy: survivalrenewableenergy.com